Home Movies/Out on Digital: Aug. 5
■ Love Me Tender
Elvis may have been the star of his first movie, but he played only a supporting role in this post-Civil War drama. Love Me Tender (1956), out now on Blu-ray, was a competent B movie from the old studio system, with swashbuckling fight scenes and solid performances. Elvis worked hard to keep up with the cast, but the attraction at the time was his anachronistic musical performances, singing antique folk songs to a hip-shaking beat.
The love story between a U.S. officer and a Japanese woman is pure Hollywood, but Emperor addresses issues surrounding the postwar occupation of Japan. The American viceroy, Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones), seeks pragmatic solutions as he imposes peace, prosecutes war criminals and rebuilds a defeated nation into a reliable ally. In Emperor the evidence for Emperor Hirohito’s guilt is murky; he may have been a god, but his role as monarch was ambiguous. One certainty: whether or not he led Japan to war, he brought it to peace.
■ The Gangster
Thai director Kongkiat Khomsiri’s setting may be exotic for American audiences, but the mean streets are familiar. The Gangster is the story of a good-bad protagonist, a gangbanger with a code who loves his family but takes the lead in bloody turf wars fought with knives, clubs and blazing guns, spent cartridges rattling on the concrete. The Gangster shows a playful side in its backdrop of Bangkok’s ’60s pop culture with go-go music and Elvis movies.